The common word for Kashrut, diets follow Jewish law dealing with what foods can and cannot be eaten and how they must be prepared and served. Kosher dietary laws are observed year round and extend beyond the home into packaged foods found in most grocery stores. The key rules are:
- Certain meat may not be eaten at all including the eggs and milk that come from the forbidden animals.
- Slaughtering and preparation of bird and animal meat must be followed in accordance with the written law.
- Fruits and vegetables are permitted but must be free from bugs. (Insects are not kosher.)
- Meat cannot be eaten with dairy. Fish, eggs, fruits, vegetables, and grains can be eaten with either meat or dairy. In some practices, fish may not be eaten with meat.
- Utensils (including pots and pans and other cooking surfaces) that have come into contact with meat may not be used with dairy, and vice versa. Also, utensils that have come into contact with non-kosher food may not be used with kosher food.
- Grape products (wine) made by non-Jews may not be eaten.
Because it is difficult to determine if ingredients used in packaged foods were sourced and prepared for kosher laws, a system of certification has become widespread. The myth is that certification is a "blessing" of the food. This is not true; certification involves examining the ingredients used to make the food, examining the process by which the food is prepared, and periodically inspecting the processing facilities to make sure that kosher standards are maintained. The certified products are given a mark that is placed on the package to let consumers who follow kosher dietary laws that the product is safe to consume.